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Celebrating New Year's Eve the Orlando Parks

by Leap on December 8, 2016 29 Orlando   Video

It’s a frog family tradition to celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney World and other Orlando area theme parks. We enjoy hopping around every year to see how each park celebrates the event. We’ve learned that this is one of those nights that everyone, parks and people, celebrates differently. We really enjoy parades, entertainment, attractions and fireworks while being surrounded by thousands of people. Yet some folks prefer a delightful dinner with friends and family. That’s fine as well (we're judgement-free frogs). Whether it's in the parks, at parties or at dinners, there are plenty of ways to celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and the rest of the area theme parks. So this New Year's Eve, pick your pleasure and enjoy!

Here’s a run-down of the festivities during New Year’s Eve at Disney World and the other parks ... plus tips!

New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom

New Year's Eve at Disney World - Cinderella Castle

Magic Kingdom is the most popular park and will be the most crowded during New Year’s Eve at Disney World. If this is your park of choice, we recommend you arrive early and stay all day since it is likely to reach capacity for some part of the day. Be sure to read our post about the parks' closing procedures! Save your viewing spot for parades and stage shows at least an hour in advance. No matter which park you are in during New Year's Eve at Disney World, make sure to use FastPass+! For those who want to celebrate a little bit early, Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks, which takes place 10 minutes before midnight, will be shown Dec. 30.

Expected Schedule

Park Hours: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; EMH (Extra Magic Hours) 7 a.m.-8 a.m.

Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party: 9:30 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade: 12 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.

Frontierland New Year's Celebration Dance Party: 7:00 p.m. (also shown on Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m.)

Holiday Wishes - New year's Celebration: 7:30 p.m. (also shown on Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m.)

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks: 11:50 p.m. (also shown on Dec. 30 at 11:50 p.m.)

New Year's Countdown Fireworks at 11:45 p.m.

New Year's Eve at Epcot

New Year's Eve at Disney World - IllumiNations at Epcot

The Frog Family is all about discovering new experiences and cultures. For that reason, Epcot is our choice for New Year’s Eve at Disney World. World Showcase goes all out in giving guests a New Year’s Eve at Disney World with an international flair. You can catch a smoke-billowing dragon in China, dance to Euro-pop and a laser show in Italy, enjoy Latin tunes from a band and DJ at the America Gardens Stage. As for crowds, Epcot is the largest of all Disney parks and can hold the most people. It won't be as packed as Magic Kingdom or Disney's Hollywood Studios and it has plenty of places to sit down, eat and relax. A special version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks & light show will be even more spectacular than normal (and that’s saying something).


Park Hours: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Fireworks: 6:00 p.m., 11:40 p.m.

Epcot New Year's Eve Dining

For New Year's Eve at Disney World, each of the following restaurants is offering special menus. Reservations are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED when dining on New Year's Eve at Disney World. To book a reservation, you can call 407-WDW-DINE.

La Hacienda de San Angel: Seating starts at 9:30 p.m. for a five-course, surf and turf dinner with alcohol pairings, including a welcome margarita. There is a live mariachi band and a view of the fireworks.

Le Cellier Steakhouse: Four-course meal with dinner seatings at 4:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. Lunch is also served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monsieur Paul: A three-course, prix-fixe menu with seatings at 11:45 a.m., noon, 2:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 5:45, 6:15 p.m., 8:45 p.m., 9:40 p.m.

New Year’s Ever World at Epcot World ShowPlace: This dinner buffet features A variety of soups and salads, fish, chicken, pork and turkey breast plus sides and a dessert station. There are kid-friendly favorites plus photo ops and classic Disney tunes.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

New Year's Eve at Disney World - Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! at Disney's Hollywood Studios

A close runner-up to Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be very crowded for celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney World. While it will be busy, there are lots of entertainment options. To ensure a seat in the Fantasmic! Theater, you’ll need to get in line at least one and a half hours early. The park is also scheduled to have BOTH of its nighttime spectaculars running. Decide if you’re in the mood for Star Wars or Santa’s Elves and get your spot in front of the Chinese Theater at least an hour early.

Park Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight

Expected Schedule

Fantasmic!: 8:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.

Center Stage Dance Party: Begins at 7:00 p.m.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular: 12 a.m.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! : 9:00 p.m.

New Year's Eve at Disney's Animal Kingdom

If you have little ones who won't be awake when the clock strikes midnight or you just aren't as into crowds and the festivities of New Year's Eve at Disney World, then this is the park for you! Disney's Animal Kingdom doesn't have any special events, and closes early compared to the others parks. It won't be as crowded, so you can catch some Disney park fun and still make your bedtime.

Park Hours: 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

New Year's Eve at Disney Springs

While you're celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney World, enjoy casual and upscale dining, shopping and entertainment, and spectacular holiday decor during Holidays at Disney Springs. Even though special New Year's Eve dining has not yet been announced, you can still plan a night out. If you want to dine at Disney Springs and cannot find a reservation through Disney World, some of the restaurants are on Open Table.

Starbright Holidays | An Intel Collaboration: 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

New Year's Eve at the Disney Resorts

You can also celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney World from the hotels. Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be party central for Disney Countdown to Midnight. This all-ages party includes bites and wine parings from restaurants such as California Grill, Flying Fish Cafe and Narcoossee’s. Musical acts, from an interactive DJ to the group Alter Ego will entertain thought the night. There will be an assortment of adult beverages throughout the evening, which ends outdoors with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s New Year’s Eve “Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks Spectacular. This is one of our favorite things about celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney World!

Disney Resorts New Year's Eve Dining Options

For celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney World, you can also have dinner at the Disney hotels. Each of the following are offering special New Year's Eve menus. Dining reservations on New Year's Eve at Disney World are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE. 

California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Garden Grove at Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Il Mulino at Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Shula’s Steak House at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

Todd English’s bluezoo at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

New Year's Eve at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Holiday - Whos of Who-ville

While we love celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney World, our Frog Family also enjoys ringing in the New Year with thrills and adventure. Both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure will be open later, so you'll have extra time to enjoy the rides, shows and dining. Be prepared for lines and crowds, as you can expect both parks to be packed.

While Universal's Islands of Adventure does not offer any New Year Eve events, you can enjoy the park's signature holiday event, Grinchmas.

Park Hours: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Expected Schedule

The Grinchmas™ Who-Liday Spectacular: 10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.,  4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

Universal Orlando Holiday - Macy's Parade

New Year's Eve at Universal Studios Florida

Celebrate the final few moments of the holiday season with the Macy’s Holiday Parade and then prepare to ring in the New Year! A special end-of-year version of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular is scheduled for 11:59 p.m.

Park Hours: 8 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

Expected Schedule

A Barney Holiday: 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:15 p.m.

Blues Brothers Holiday Christmas Show: 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:40 p.m. & 3:40 p.m.

Macy’s Holiday Parade: 5 p.m.

Universal Cinematic Spectacular: Midnight

New Year's Eve at Universal CityWalk (8 p.m.-2 a.m.)

Eve, Universal CityWalk Orlando’s signature New Year’s Eve celebration is going to shine a bit brighter this year. Wearable Tech LED Wristbands will be given out, letting everyone participate in a party-wide light show. Eve features six different party zones, each with its own signature drinks. Six clubs will be bringing live music along with unlimited gourmet cuisine, Orlando's biggest outdoor dance floor with M-Squared DJing, a midnight champagne toast and pyrotechnics display. This separately ticketed event is for 21 and up. Leave the tadpoles at the resort's activity centers or use an in-room sitter.

New Year's Eve at SeaWorld Orlando

If you like celebrating Christmas right up to January, then you’ll enjoy ringing in the New Year at SeaWorld Orlando. With its Christmas Celebration lasting through New Year's Eve, SeaWorld Orlando is a great place to celebrate. There are plenty of holiday shows to see, and it should be less crowded than New Year's Eve at Disney World or Universal Orlando. Stay warm and watch its special fireworks show at midnight.

Park Hours: 9 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

Expected Schedule

Sea of Trees: 6 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 8:05 p.m. & 8:55 p.m.

Waterfront snowflurries: 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:25 p.m. & 8:15 p.m.

Clyde & Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas: 6:45 p.m., 8:15 p.m.

Elmo's Christmas Wish: 3 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

O Wondrous Night: 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Shamu Christmas Miracles: 10:00 a.m, 8:30 p.m.

Winter Wonderland on Ice: 11:25 a.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m.

Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale: Midnight

New Year's Eve at Busch Gardens Tampa

We frogs like to think we're real party animals, but if you really want to party with animals on New Year’s Eve, there is Busch Gardens. Take on thrill rides such as Cobra’s Curse, Falcon’s Fury or Cheetah Hunt as DJs spin music throughout the park. Join in the park-wide countdown to the New Year and catch a spectacular midnight fireworks celebration in Gwazi Park. Tampa is about 70 miles from the Disney area, so plan your travels accordingly.

Park Hours: 9 a.m.-1 a.m.

Expected Schedule

Fireworks: Midnight


Kids New Year's Eve at Disney World and beyond - LEGOLAND Florida

Trying to beat the crowds of New Year's Eve at Disney World? Head to LEGOLAND Florida. One of the most kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations in the area happens at LEGOLAND Florida. Kids’ New Year's Eve is a kid-friendly celebration that includes fireworks and a dance party DJ. The giant LEGO ball drops at the kid-friendly hour of 7 p.m. You can get an early start on seeing the fireworks nightly between Dec. 24-30. Be sure to get a pair of special 3D glasses to see millions of tiny LEGO brick bursts during the performance. Winter Haven is about 37 miles from the Disney area, so plan your travels.

Park Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Expected Schedule

LEGO Ball drop: 7 p.m.

All times listed below are subject to change. Here's hoping you have a great time during New Year's Eve at Disney World and beyond. Wherever you decide to ring in the New Year, have a hoppin’ good time and stay safe!

Related: Top 10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Disney World During the Holidays

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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The Frog Blog: travel tips from the family frog » Weekend Fun Forecast (Dec. 31 thru Jan. 2) - Undercover Tourist Dec 31, 2010 at 6:06 p.m.

[...] New Year’s Eve at the Parks? Click here for helpful information like parade and show [...]

BeachMD Dec 25, 2015 at 12:05 p.m.

Thanks for the good tips. One correction: LEGOLAND is in Winter Haven, not Winter Park.

phoenix Dec 6, 2015 at 7:07 p.m.

Is EPCOT really the place to be on NYE? if so, why?

Also, is park hopping recommended on that day?

FrogBlog Dec 7, 2015 at 8:23 a.m.

Hi Phoenix,

Epcot is a good place to be on New Year's Eve because it is such a large park that it can better handle the crowds. Plus, there is plenty of food and drink options, and a beautiful fireworks finale to cap off the year. Park hopping is not recommended on this day.

Keep hopping!


Nancy Nov 23, 2016 at 2:12 a.m.

New Years Eve at Epcot is the best. Each country has dance music entertainment and fun. Fireworks from several countries too.

Tiffany Jan 2, 2017 at 7:39 a.m.

Well, Epcot should be the place because, there is more cultures instead of lines of waiting for rides. Btw Magic Kingdom closed early of capacity to! So they recommend the hopper because some would leave Magic Kingdom early, so then you could hop to Magic Kingdom from what ever park you were at! Either you stay at a Disney resort to go to Magic Kingdom during closed of capacity or wait for others to leave and hop to the park!

NYE JAY Dec 12, 2015 at 11:38 p.m.

If you are not in the park by a certain time I have heard that they close entrance due to large crowds at this time of year (New Years Eve) even Epcot. Is this true?

FrogBlog Dec 14, 2015 at 2:33 p.m.


This is a possibility on the busiest days. Here is a post that addresses the park closing procedures:


Keep hopping!


Shawna Whiteleather Dec 28, 2015 at 3:55 p.m.

Do you happen to know if Legoland will still have their Christmas tree and Santa's Sleigh out for New Year's Eve?

Rob Aug 13, 2016 at 6:05 p.m.

I booked a trip to Orlando from Dec. 29th to January 5th. After reading reports online, it appears that Disney World is crowded and that is putting it mildly. Is it really that crazy? My wife and daughter are not ones that can handle crowds that well.

Would it make sense to visit the parks later in the week such as on January 3rd to 5th. I am also thinking of extending our time and possibly hitting the parks later (up to January 8th). Will the crowds somewhat diminish after New Years?

Thank you

FrogBlog Aug 16, 2016 at 1:03 p.m.

Hi Rob,

All of those dates will be busy, especially since the Walt Disney World Marathon was moved up a bit this year to Jan. 5-8.


Keep hopping!


Erica Oct 26, 2016 at 10:44 p.m.

We always go, it is busy, but to us not bad. still a great family time.

Mary Blum Oct 30, 2016 at 8:56 p.m.

Can you see fireworks while having dinner at Portebella's in disney springs?

Mitch Nov 6, 2016 at 2:24 p.m.

Can our family (with 2 boys aged 12 & 9) visit citywalk or downtown Disney on NYE ? If not where should we go to see fireworks, etc?

FrogBlog Nov 8, 2016 at 1:57 p.m.

Hi Mitch,

CityWalk typically has an age limit after a certain time on New Year's Eve. Downtown Disney (now called Disney Springs) will likely offer some countdown activities, but if you want to see the fireworks, hop over to the Magic Kingdom area. Some of our favorite spots to watch them outside of the park are California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Ticket and Transportation Center.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Dina Nov 29, 2016 at 8:56 p.m.

Hi I was looking for some insight...I'm going with a 3 year old and 2 year old and am not sure how to be a part of the NYE festivities. Is it better to make a dining reservation in Eocot or Magic Kingdom? (I found one in both) or try to find somewhere outside the parks nearby? Thank you in advance! I've never been so I need all the help I can get!

FrogBlog Dec 8, 2016 at 6 p.m.

Hi Dina,

This really depends on you, how many days you have etc. Epcot has more space and more dining options, and is overall a better choice for this very busy day, but that is overall up to you.

If you can get a reservation, that is great!

Keep hopping!


Danielle Dec 5, 2016 at 10:04 p.m.

i am brazilian and i have 2 kids.

i am going to orlando and i dont know what park i will stay in NYE, Epcot or Magic Kingdom

i dindt find restaurante or place to stay in during the celebration.

Could you help me?

FrogBlog Dec 8, 2016 at 3:29 p.m.

Hi Danielle,

Epcot has more space and more restaurants, including quick-service, that don't need reservations, so overall I think you will have a better experience at Epcot than Magic Kingdom on this day.

Keep hopping!


Danielle Dec 14, 2016 at 3:58 p.m.

What will crowds at Universal be like? Will they reach capacity and if so do you know when each park usually does?

FrogBlog Dec 21, 2016 at 12:09 p.m.

Hi Danille,

The parks will both be crowded. Closing due to capacity has many factors. We suggest arriving early—before the gates open—and staying in that park though closing.

Keep hopping!


Laurel Reutter Dec 22, 2016 at 2:40 a.m.

How to get best price on SeaWorldnew year's Eve tickets?

FrogBlog Dec 22, 2016 at 2:29 p.m.

Hi Laurel,

We're the #1 supplier of online discount Orlando attraction tickets, and we have Sea World tickets ! There is no special New Year's ticket. The regular ticket will get you in.

Shawnie Chin Dec 23, 2016 at 8:55 a.m.

We're going to see fireworks, but we don't want to go any theme park, have any good spot to watch the fireworks? My boyfriend is off at 11pm on 12/31 in Winter Park, if we're going to Universal City walk ,do we have to buy tickets?

FrogBlog Dec 27, 2016 at 12:04 p.m.

Hi Shawnie,

There will be a ticketed event at Universal City Walk New Year's Eve. You may still visit CityWalk for dining and shopping, but the event really takes up most of the space that night.

We don't have any outside of the theme park viewing tips. Perhaps some of our readers would be "hoppy" to share?

Keep Hopping!


Grace Dec 26, 2016 at 10:15 p.m.

very informative! just left with a doubt; do you have to pay for an extra pass for NYE at any park, or simply stay after hours for this event with your regular park pass? THANKS!

FrogBlog Dec 27, 2016 at 11:58 a.m.

Hi Grace,

You regular park pass is all you need to enjoy everything happening inside the park on New Year's Eve, excluding any dining that you do. Events outside the parks have their own admissions which require additional tickets.

Keep Hopping!


Christine Apr 18, 2017 at 9:11 p.m.

Do you know about what time of the year they start selling the New Years Eve tickets for City Walk? Nov?

FrogBlog Apr 19, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.

Hi Christine,

They usually go on sale late November/Early December.

Hoppy Planning!


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